Week 3 already? How time flies!
No-one in the village was left alive. All the buildings were still standing, the streets filled with the unmoving dead.
Gail landed the plane on the football field, and did her post flight checks while the inspection team gathered together their equipment ready to inspect the bodies. She watched them shoulder backpacks full of medical supplies and cameras. She watched them struggle under the weight and disappear amongst the trees.
For three hours there was nothing but silence, and Gail lost herself in the cracked spine book she held on her lap. When the radio creaked she dropped the book and looked through the windscreen.
The trees had gone, and the villagers had returned. They were getting closer, dragging the inspection team between them. Over the sound of a thousand rotten feet grinding themselves to paste, Gail listened to her colleagues whimper.
Soon they would complete their takeover of the football field, the plane. Of her. She glanced behind her. There was nowhere left to go.
Covered in lichen the geodesic dome had long since started to rot, stained polygonal panels sliding free to collapse and shatter on the meadow grass.
Niamh knew what lurked inside. They’d heard the buzzing from across the valley and knew that if they didn’t clear out the nest, the insects would soon outgrow their squatted home and swarm for a new place to occupy.
With practiced hands she snapped the protective clothing in place, waiting a moment for the visor to clear. Walking toward the abandoned structure she wondered if the shape had attracted the creatures. Some echo of a memory deep inside their collective mind.
Sweat ran down her arms and collected in the tips of her gloves. She reached up and held the frame as she lifted first one leg, then the other inside, and walked to the middle.
The noise was overwhelming, shifting shadows against the green filtered light.
Undoing her bag, she primed the device that would bring silence to the hive, and barely noticed the first sting near the base of her back. The next few got her attention and, sensing blood in the soil, the insects swarmed until she was nothing but a blackened mound of shifting pixels on the meadow, tiny jaws tearing her apart to further build their nest.
Sam sheltered in one of the bedrooms, no light to see by and no windows to keep out the cold. His sleeping bag was still wet from a bucket of bleach water chucked in his direction two days earlier, already starting to smell of mildew and mould.
The only heat came from the small stove in front of where he sat cross-legged.
His mum had taught him how to make stews when he was a child, him peeling the veg while she chopped them to chunks. “Always chunks Sammy, not too thin. You’ll lose all the flavour otherwise.”
How to put everything together and how to make the best of what was left over. How to let it simmer for hours until it softened and blended.
He didn’t have that luxury now. Hard to find the fuel for his stove in the city. If he did have the funds, the shopkeepers always thought he was going to settle his stomach with the fumes from the cannisters rather than with food cooked above the flames.
In front of him the pan warmed and the stew inside began to reheat.
He hoped the windowsill where he stashed the tupperware container had been cold enough to keep the food healthy. He still remembered the last dose of food poisoning, and how he’d nearly not made it through the week.
He watched the flames, smelt the warming food and thought of his mother once more.
Emily drove the mattock into the ground, watching spoil spray up as the blade bit into the dirt. When she had finished breaking up the pit’s fill, she stood back and waited while the other diggers climbed in with their shovels, letting them load up the barrow before taking it to the spoil heap.
They’d been on site for two weeks and the pit was the only interesting feature. Everything else was land drain or natural so she was overjoyed to finally have something to show in the trenches.
The pit was broad and deep. For the last couple of days they’d tried in vain to recover any finds but there weren’t any to recover. Then the remains started emerging through the dirt.
The skeleton seemed to be made of human bone, but globular and formless, as if fused together. Once the remains were completely uncovered, Emily taped up a drawing board and started to plan each rib and fingerbone, only getting part of the job done before the lack of light robbed her of the ability to finish the job.
The next day the drawing did not match the feature, and at first Emily thought she’d made an error. After dinner the bones had changed again.
Uncertain how to stop the shifting, she reached out and touched the skeletal material, stroking her fingers down a complex knot of bones.
The scorching sensation started in the tips of her fingers and soon spread up her arm like an infection. She looked down at her limbs. Her tendons were bare, fingers and wrist bones welded, both to each other and the bones in the pit. Slowly but surely, she felt herself dragged under the soil, the last of her skin scraped off against the soil as she became absorbed into the net of bone.
The stones were crumbling. Every day more and more turned to dust to be carried away on the breeze.
Harry stood in the centre and looked around at monuments that had stood for millennia now simply disappearing with the breeze. No need for even the most gentle of touches. This was not the erosion of expansion or contraction, but the air itself stealing them from the world.
“Maybe we don’t deserve them anymore,” he said, sitting on the granite covered grass, his head in his hands, palms now stained with dirt and tears.
Carlo had been investigating the infection for three days, crawling about under the tower block, carrying out tests, though he was not sure what he was looking for when he started. He knew now.
He stared at the screen revealing the results. The infection didn’t sound unusual. A series of holes edged in rust. Not exactly uncommon in steel framed buildings.
For three days he’d crawled around, breathing mask on to protect his lungs from dead pigeon dust and forgotten asbestos. Above the mask his skin bare.
He lifted the mirror and stared once more at the holes in his face, each one edged in rust. Inside there was no bone or muscle, just shuddering darkness as something hidden crawled its way through slowly but surely ready to scrape its way into the light.
Violet had safe places, places she could manifest without becoming trapped in trees or stone. This was not one of those places.
She was definite the ritual had been correct, the projection exact. The visualisation specific.
Her arms did not move when she tried to change position, and she abandoned any attempt. Normally it was easy for Violet to transition from place to place; concentrate on her memory of where she wanted to go, and picture it in her head, hold that idea in her head and enwrap herself with the solidity of the location.
She tried opening her eyes, but they were as sealed in place as her arms. She felt the crust of corrosion inside her limbs at the point where they extended beyond the statue where she was trapped. The statue that had only recently been erected in the square, the variation that had caught her out. She felt the circulation stop reaching her fingers.
Somewhere people started screaming. One of them was her.